Enough is enough. As a lifelong diehard Lakers fan I am utterly mortified and disappointed in this Lakers squad this season. With such a star studded cast of all stars, former MVPs and NBA Champions the Lakers have fallen flat on title aspirations and expectations. As a team the Lakers need to WAKE up. Flat is the perfect word to describe this team as it seems like almost every other game they come out lethargic and without any energy. A lot of people may say that the Lakers players themselves should be to blame, but I would disagree. The players are partially to blame for their losing record but the brunt (thanks Kobe for this word) of the blame should be toward the coaching staff and Lakers management. Mainly I would blame Jim Buss and Mike D’Antoni for this fiasco.
The problem for the Lakers the whole season has been defense. Mike Brown was supposedly a defensive genius but instead he focused all his intention on teaching them a read and react Princeton offense. So after merely 5 games at 1-4 Mike Brown got the boot. Here was the Lakers chance at a golden opportunity and a fresh start. Phil Jackson was handed to them on a silver platter and was ready to come back and coach the Lakers to another Championship Title. It would be the perfect fit for the Lakers and for the Zen Master. However the heir to the Lakers throne Jim Buss agreed with Mitch Kupchak that they would rather sign Mike D’Antoni instead of the 11x NBA Champion Phil Jackson. That would be fine but last time I checked Mike D’Antoni has never won a championship and his defensive philosophy is just that a philosophy. D’Antoni has never even been to the NBA Finals but apparently he must be a better choice the greatest coach who ever lived Phil Jackson. The Lakers personnel right now is even better suited for PJax and his Triangle Offense. With the 2 Big Men Gasol and Dwight Howard and the best passing point guard Steve Nash not to mention the BEST player in the NBA Kobe Bryant, this team was made for Phil Jackson to lead them to the NBA Finals Promised Land.
Nothing personal against Mike D’Antoni, actually I like him as a guy he is quite easy going and funny in his interviews but he is not the right coach for this Lakers team. Mike D’Antoni will not adjust his system for his personnel and that has been a problem since he arrived in LA LA Land. How can you implement a run and gun offense with 2 7 footers and a bunch of veteran players. The personnel the Lakers have do not fit his system. A good coach would realize this and would adjust his system to fit with his players. Since joining the Lakers as head coach this season Mike D’Antoni is a measly 10-13 which is a .435 winning percentage. After winning 5 games in a row the Lakers are now on a 4 game losing skid. I have no idea what Mike D’Antoni is thinking when he feels that having Pau Gasol jack up long 3s is more useful than having one of the best post up big men in the POST. Gasol has played his whole career under the basket and has the best footwork and touch of any big man in the NBA. Instead D’Antoni has Howard in the paint and forcing contested hook shots. It is mind boggling that they call this guy an offensive genius. I think the person who gave the title of defensive guru to Mike Brown is the same one who called D’Antoni an offensive genius. If D’Antoni knew what he was doing he would put Gasol in the low post and Dwight Howard in the High Post up at the elbow and have D12 come off the screen and roll with Nash assisting. If the pick in roll is not there, then feed it down low to Gasol who has the skill and touch to finish down low. If the low post is defended then swing it to the wing and let the Black Mamba Kobe Bryant the Closer go to work. Also the Lakers need to let Steve Nash shoot the rock more. Yes he is the facilitator and gets everyone involved but he is a lethal knockdown shooter at 50% and 40% from 3 point land. Steve Nash must pull the trigger more for the Lakers to be effective because it certainly doesn’t look like we are getting any production from the bench and role players. Kobe is leading the league in scoring in his 17th season and is having his highest FG% efficiency of his career. The Lakers need to feed the Beast Dwight Howard more often as well but put him in winning situations. Dwight is most effective coming off the pick and pop with Nashty hitting him with the sweet dish. Mike D’Antoni needs to realize that it would be more effective to play a half court offense utilizing the Lakers size with their bigs rather than play a run and gun offense with older veteran players. Let the Lakers set up on offense and pound the ball down low or pick and roll with Nash to Howard. Even Iso for Kobe and good things will happen.
The biggest problem for the Lakers has to be Defense. The Lakers rank 26th in points allowed giving up 100.6 points a game. That is a major problem. When you are handing out Free Tacos (Lakers home tradition joke) to the other team it is hard to win games. The transition defense of the Lakers is absolutely abysmal as other teams exploit the Lakers turnovers for easy fastbreak points with no Lakers getting back on defense. The Lakers are averaging 102.9 points a game which is 5th best overall but giving up 100 points means that it will be hard and almost impossible to win games on a nightly basis. The Lakers have the 3rd most turnovers a game with 15 and only force their opponents into 13 TOs. So with lack of defense the Lakers need to protect the basketball much better to limit transition points for their opponents. They say that defense wins championships well Mike D’Antoni has actually never heard this phrase or completely thrown it out the window altogether. For the Lakers to become a championship team let alone a playoff team they need to get COMMITTED to DEFENSE. A discipline to play team defense and rotating to help each other with take this team far. So far it looks like Mike D’less Antoni’s defensive strategy is paying off, that is not playing defense at all. This team needs to buckle down and bring the defensive intensity on every possession and let the defense create turnovers to enable the offense. If the Lakers could become a trapping defense and force contested shots consistently then this team could be really dangerous. Dwight Howard needs to be the anchor on defense by blocking and altering shots and switching for other teammates when in need. Kobe Bryant is the leader of this team and he needs to preach that defense is key and everything else will take care of itself. As long as the Lakers are committed to playing tough defense, rotating, creating contested shots, rebounding, and forcing turnovers then they can turn this season around and become a lethal contender. However if the Lakers remain with this nonchalant attitude when it comes to defense and not playing hard then the rest of the season will be an utter downfall.
I still believe that the Lakers can turn this season around and become playoff contenders and hopefully a championship caliber team. The main focus has to be a commitment to defense and Mike D’Antoni adjusting his offense to cater to the players that he has. D’Antoni cannot force his players to adjust to his system but he needs to change his system to accommodate to his players. The Lakers must play every game from here on out as if it were Game 7 of the NBA Finals because they have dug such a hole for themselves that hunger, will, desperation, and intensity will only help to get them out of it. The Lakers are 15-19 right now and need roughly 48 wins to make the playoffs. Right now the Lakers need to go 34-15 in their last 49 games to play.
Please pick up the intensity, will and desire-
-Signed a Concerned Lakers Fan!